Reps. Axne, ­­­Steil Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Prevent Sanctions Evasion

November 20, 2020
Press Release
Axne bill would create public-private group to stop illicit finance, including sanctions evasion and arms proliferation

Today, Reps. Cindy Axne (IA-03) and Bryan Steil (WI-01) introduced bipartisan legislation to create an advisory group of federal agencies and private sector experts to limit the use of the financial system by bad actors.

The Preventing Illicit Finance Act would use the new advisory group to focus on ensuring that sanctions enacted by the U.S. and its allies are not circumvented by hidden transactions, as well as preventing proliferation finance – the use of the financial system to develop or distribute nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons.

“Keeping our enemies from using financial tools to get access to nuclear and biological weapons is a critical part of protecting our nation from grave national security threats,” said Rep. Axne. “It is critically important that we’re able to use sanctions as a tool of foreign policy so that we don’t have to risk any American lives or spend more to keep international bad actors in line. Preventing dangerous dictators and oligarchs from avoiding sanctions is essential to make sure those sanctions work, and I’m proud to work with Congressman Steil on this legislation to better protect our financial system from abuse.”

“U.S. financial sanctions are an effective tool to hold adversaries accountable. U.S. financial sanctions hinder the Iranian Regime’s influence and activity in the region and impair their ability to obtain a nuclear weapon,” said Rep. Steil. “Our bill strengthens the United States’ ability to enforce financial sanctions against Iran, Russia, and other bad actors. I will continue working to ensure government agencies and the private sector work together to combat illicit finance and sanctions evasion.”

The bill follows reports last September from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) who found at least $170 million was laundered by North Korean officials to avoid sanctions, in addition to up to $1 billion from two Russian oligarchs who were sanctioned in 2014 after the Russian invasion of Crimea.

Rep. Axne and Rep. Steil are both members of the House Financial Services Committee, which has oversight jurisdiction on the financial services products and institutions that would be the focus of this legislation’s new public-private group.